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Feb 08 2019

So. It Is War Then.

Prepare every vessel that floats. At dawn, we are at war.

Earlier we were talking about Tom Steyer money, $1 Million a week more or less (without touching the principal mind you).

What is Jeff Bezos money? $9 Million a day. After the divorce? $4.5 Million a day.

A day.

No thank you, Mr. Pecker
Jeff Bezos, Medium
Feb 7, 2019

Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.

AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, led by David Pecker, recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called “Catch and Kill” process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign. Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they’ve taken on behalf of the Saudi Government.

And sometimes Mr. Pecker mixes it all together:

“After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker’s loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions…”

Federal investigators and legitimate media have of course suspected and proved that Mr. Pecker has used the Enquirer and AMI for political reasons. And yet AMI keeps claiming otherwise:

“American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.”

Of course, legitimate media have been challenging that assertion for a long time.

I didn’t know much about most of that a few weeks ago when intimate texts messages from me were published in the National Enquirer. I engaged investigators to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer. As it turns out, there are now several independent investigations looking into this matter.

To lead my investigation, I retained Gavin de Becker. I’ve known Mr. de Becker for twenty years, his expertise in this arena is excellent, and he’s one of the smartest and most capable leaders I know. I asked him to prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on and to proceed with whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter.

Here’s a piece of context: My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy.

President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.

(Even though The Post is a complexifier for me, I do not at all regret my investment. The Post is a critical institution with a critical mission. My stewardship of The Post and my support of its mission, which will remain unswerving, is something I will be most proud of when I’m 90 and reviewing my life, if I’m lucky enough to live that long, regardless of any complexities it creates for me.)

Back to the story: Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is “apoplectic” about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.

A few days after hearing about Mr. Pecker’s apoplexy, we were approached, verbally at first, with an offer. They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.

My lawyers argued that AMI has no right to publish photos since any person holds the copyright to their own photos, and since the photos in themselves don’t add anything newsworthy.

AMI’s claim of newsworthiness is that the photos are necessary to show Amazon shareholders that my business judgment is terrible. I founded Amazon in my garage 24 years ago, and drove all the packages to the post office myself. Today, Amazon employs more than 600,000 people, just finished its most profitable year ever, even while investing heavily in new initiatives, and it’s usually somewhere between the #1 and #5 most valuable company in the world. I will let those results speak for themselves.

OK, back to their threat to publish intimate photos of me. I guess we (me, my lawyers, and Gavin de Becker) didn’t react to the generalized threat with enough fear, so they sent this:

From: Howard, Dylan [dhoward@amilink.com] (Chief Content Officer, AMI)
Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2019 3:33 PM
To: Martin Singer (litigation counsel for Mr. de Becker)
Subject:. Jeff Bezos & Ms. Lauren Sanchez Photos

CONFIDENTIAL & NOT FOR DISTRIBIUTION

Marty:

I am leaving the office for the night. I will be available on my cell — 917 XXX-XXXX.

However, in the interests of expediating this situation, and with The Washington Post poised to publish unsubstantiated rumors of The National Enquirer’s initial report, I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering.

In addition to the “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” — The Enquirer obtained a further nine images. These include:

· Mr. Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.

· Ms. Sanchez response — a photograph of her smoking a cigar in what appears to be a simulated oral sex scene.

· A shirtless Mr. Bezos holding his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring. He’s wearing either tight black cargo pants or shorts — and his semi-erect manhood is penetrating the zipper of said garment.

· A full-length body selfie of Mr. Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks, with his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring.

· A selfie of Mr. Bezos fully clothed.

· A full-length scantily-clad body shot with short trunks.

· A naked selfie in a bathroom — while wearing his wedding ring. Mr. Bezos is wearing nothing but a white towel — and the top of his pubic region can be seen.

· Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.

· Ms. Sanchez wearing a two-piece red bikini with gold detail dress revealing her cleavage.

It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.

Dylan.

Well, that got my attention. But not in the way they likely hoped. Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can? (On that point, numerous people have contacted our investigation team about their similar experiences with AMI, and how they needed to capitulate because, for example, their livelihoods were at stake.)

In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

If we do not agree to affirmatively publicize that specific lie, they say they’ll publish the photos, and quickly. And there’s an associated threat: They’ll keep the photos on hand and publish them in the future if we ever deviate from that lie.

Be assured, no real journalists ever propose anything like what is happening here: I will not report embarrassing information about you if you do X for me. And if you don’t do X quickly, I will report the embarrassing information.

Nothing I might write here could tell the National Enquirer story as eloquently as their own words below.

These communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.

Sincerely,

Jeff Bezos

From: Fine, Jon [jfine@amilink.com] (Deputy General Counsel, AMI)
Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 5:57 PM
To: Martin Singer (Mr de Becker’s attorney)
Subject: Re: EXTERNAL* RE: Bezos et al / American Media et al

Marty –

Here are our proposed terms:

1. A full and complete mutual release of all claims that American Media, on the one hand, and Jeff Bezos and Gavin de Becker (the “Bezos Parties”), on the other, may have against each other.

2. A public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility.

3. AM agrees not to publish, distribute, share, or describe unpublished texts and photos (the “Unpublished Materials”).

4. AM affirms that it undertook no electronic eavesdropping in connection with its reporting and has no knowledge of such conduct.

5. The agreement is completely confidential.

6. In the case of a breach of the agreement by one or more of the Bezos Parties, AM is released from its obligations under the agreement, and may publish the Unpublished Materials.

7. Any other disputes arising out of this agreement shall first be submitted to JAMS mediation in California

Thank you,

Jon

Deputy General Counsel, Media
American Media, LLC

February 5, 2019
Via email:
mdsinger@lavelysinger.com
Martin D. Singer
Laveley & Singer

Re: Jeff Bezos / American Media, LLC, et al.

Dear Mr. Singer:

I write in response to your February 4, 2019, letter to Dylan Howard, and to address serious concerns we have regarding the continuing defamatory activities of your client and his representatives regarding American Media’s motivations in its recent reporting about your client.

As a primary matter, please be advised that our newsgathering and reporting on matters involving your client, including any use of your client’s “private photographs,” has been, and will continue to be, consistent with applicable laws. As you know, “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting . . . is not an infringement of copyright.” 17 USC Sec. 107. With millions of Americans having a vested interest in the success of Amazon, of which your client remains founder, chairman, CEO, and president, an exploration of Mr. Bezos’ judgment as reflected by his texts and photos is indeed newsworthy and in the public interest.

Beyond the copyright issues you raise, we also find it necessary to address various unsubstantiated defamatory statements and scurrilous rumors attributed to your client’s representatives in the press suggesting that “strong leads point to political motives”1 in the publication of The National Enquirer story. Indeed, you yourself declared the “politically motivated underpinnings” of our reporting to be “self-evident” in your correspondence on Mr. de Becker’s behalf to Mr. Howard dated January 31, 2019.

Once again, as I advised you in my February 1 response to your January 31 correspondence, American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise. Simply put, this was and is a news story.

Yet, it is our understanding that your client’s representatives, including the Washington Post, continue to pursue and to disseminate these false and spurious allegations in a manner that is injurious to American Media and its executives.

Accordingly, we hereby demand that you cease and desist such defamatory conduct immediately. Any further dissemination of these false, vicious, speculative and unsubstantiated statements is done at your client’s peril. Absent the immediate cessation of the defamatory conduct, we will have no choice but to pursue all remedies available under applicable law.

As I advised previously, we stand by the legality of our newsgathering and reporting on this matter of public interest and concern. Moreover, American Media is undeterred from continuing its reporting on a story that is unambiguously in the public interest — a position Mr. Bezos clearly appreciates as reflected in Boies Schiller January 9 letter to American Media stating that your client “does not intend to discourage reporting about him” and “supports journalistic efforts.”

That said, if your client agrees to cease and desist such defamatory behavior, we are willing to engage in constructive conversations regarding the texts and photos which we have in our possession. Dylan Howard stands ready to discuss the matter at your convenience.

All other rights, claims, counterclaims and defenses are specifically reserved and not waived.

Sincerely,

And so, we go to War.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of extortion over intimate photos
By Paul Farhi, Sarah Ellison, and Devlin Barrett, Washington Post
February 7, 2019

Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos said Thursday that he was the target of an extortion and blackmail effort by the National Enquirer, which he accused of threatening to publish intimate pictures of him unless he backed off an investigation of the tabloid.

In an extraordinary post to the online publishing platform Medium, Bezos said the Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc., made the threat after he began investigating how the tabloid obtained text messages that revealed his relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.

Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, wrote that the Enquirer wanted him to make a false public statement that he and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, “have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

Bezos declined to do so.

Instead, he published what he said were emails from Enquirer executives to a lawyer representing de Becker. In one, top Enquirer editor Dylan Howard appears to suggest that the tabloid would publish a series of salacious photos of Bezos and one of Sanchez if AMI’s terms weren’t met.

“I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering,” Howard wrote, going on to say that the Enquirer had a “below the belt selfie” of Bezos, among other shots. Howard added, “It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.”

Bezos noted that the email “got my attention,” but said that “any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”

The post, which was linked from Bezos’s Twitter account, was a remarkable escalation of a spat between the world’s richest man and a tabloid known for its loyalty to the president of the United States.

The story spilled into public on Jan. 9 when Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, revealed they would be divorcing after 25 years of marriage — roughly two days after the Enquirer had informed him it would be publishing a story about his relationship with Sanchez. The Enquirer later published what it called “sleazy text messages and gushing love notes” between Bezos and Sanchez, raising questions about how the tabloid was able to get such intimate material. Bezos began to investigate how the leak of his private information came about.

AMI’s chief executive, David Pecker, has had a long friendship with President Trump, who has repeatedly attacked Bezos, Amazon and The Washington Post. Pecker directed the Enquirer to write favorable stories about Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, while paying $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to suppress her claim of a long-running affair with Trump.

On Jan. 31, de Becker was quoted in the Daily Beast suggesting that the Enquirer’s pursuit of Bezos was politically motivated.

On Feb. 5, The Post reported that Bezos and de Becker suspected that the source of the text and photo leaks may have been Sanchez’s brother, Michael, a California public relations executive who is close to Pecker and various figures in Trump’s orbit, including former campaign advisers Roger Stone and Carter Page. Michael Sanchez denied any involvement in revealing his sister’s relationship with Bezos.

The Post reported that Sanchez said he was told by multiple people at AMI that the Enquirer set out to do “a takedown to make Trump happy.”

Pecker is now cooperating with federal investigators who are looking into the company’s involvement with the Trump campaign.

Bezos’s public letter seems to suggest that federal agents should investigate whether AMI may have violated the terms of its non-prosecution agreement with prosecutors in Manhattan over its role in the 2016 hush money payments.

“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote. In the next sentence, Bezos describes the non-prosecution agreement struck in September between AMI and the Justice Department.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan did not immediately comment on Bezos’s assertion that AMI had committed extortion.

Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said Bezos’s allegations, if accurate, could have serious consequences for both prosecutors and AMI.

“This could constitute criminal conduct in the eyes of a prosecutor, if these allegations are true,” said Mintz. “For prosecutors, your worst nightmare is watching a cooperation deal unravel. Alleged conduct like this puts them in the position to rethink that deal and potentially turn around and have to prosecute AMI, and that undermines their ability to continue to use them to assist other ongoing investigations.”

In his post on Medium, Bezos called his ownership of The Post “a complexifier” for him. He wrote that it’s “unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy. President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.”

Despite mounting evidence, Trump has disputed that Khashoggi was killed on the orders of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi monarch was the subject of a flattering glossy magazine produced by AMI in 2016, at a time when the Saudi regime was attempting to portray Mohammed as a reformer in Middle Eastern politics.

Yeah, well, about that Khashoggi thing-

Year Before Killing, Saudi Prince Told Aide He Would Use ‘a Bullet’ on Jamal Khashoggi
By Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times
Feb. 7, 2019

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia told a top aide in a conversation in 2017 that he would use “a bullet” on Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed in October, if Mr. Khashoggi did not return to the kingdom and end his criticism of the Saudi government, according to current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of intelligence reports.

The conversation, intercepted by American intelligence agencies, is the most detailed evidence to date that the crown prince considered killing Mr. Khashoggi long before a team of Saudi operatives strangled him inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and dismembered his body using a bone saw. Mr. Khashoggi’s murder prompted weeks of outrage around the world and among both parties in Washington, where senior lawmakers called for an investigation into who was responsible.

The Saudi government has denied that the young crown prince played any role in the killing, and President Trump has publicly shown little interest in trying to get the facts about who was responsible. Prince Mohammed, the next in line to the Saudi throne behind his ailing father, King Salman, has become the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and a close ally of the Trump White House — especially Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

The conversation appears to have been recently transcribed and analyzed as part of an effort by intelligence agencies to find proof of who was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death. The National Security Agency and other American spy agencies are now sifting through years of the crown prince’s voice and text communications that the N.S.A. routinely intercepted and stored, much as the agency has long done for other top foreign officials, including close allies of the United States.

For the past several months, the National Security Agency has circulated intelligence reports to other spy agencies, the White House and close foreign allies about the crown prince’s communications. The reports were described by several current and former officials. Weeks after the killing, the C.I.A. finished its first assessment about the operation, concluding that Prince Mohammed had ordered it.

The conversation between Prince Mohammed and the aide, Turki Aldakhil, took place in September 2017, as officials in the kingdom were growing increasingly alarmed about Mr. Khashoggi’s criticisms of the Saudi government. That same month, Mr. Khashoggi began writing opinion columns for The Washington Post, and top Saudi officials discussed ways to lure him back to Saudi Arabia.

In the conversation, Prince Mohammed said that if Mr. Khashoggi could not be enticed back to Saudi Arabia, then he should be returned by force. If neither of those methods worked, the crown prince said, then he would go after Mr. Khashoggi “with a bullet,” according to the officials familiar with one of the intelligence reports, which was produced in early December.

At the time of the conversation with Mr. Aldakhil, Prince Mohammed was in the midst of consolidating power in the kingdom. Just months earlier, his father elevated him to second in line to the throne after Prince Mohammed plotted the ouster of his predecessor, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

In late 2017, Prince Mohammed ordered hundreds of influential businessmen and Saudi royals — some who had been considered contenders to the throne — locked up at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where they were interrogated.

Days before the conversation with Mr. Aldakhil, according to the same intelligence report, Prince Mohammed complained to another aide — Saud al-Qahtani — that Mr. Khashoggi had grown too influential. Prince Mohammed said that Mr. Khashoggi’s articles and Twitter posts were tarnishing the crown prince’s image as a forward-thinking reformer, and the criticism was more cutting because it was coming from a journalist who had once been seen as supportive of his agenda.

When Mr. al-Qahtani said that any move against Mr. Khashoggi was risky and could create an international uproar, his boss scolded him: Saudi Arabia should not care about international reaction to how it handles its own citizens, the crown prince told Mr. al-Qahtani.

Prince Mohammed also told Mr. al-Qahtani, according to an official who has read the report, that he “did not like half-measures — he never liked them and did not believe in them.”

American intelligence agencies have identified Mr. al-Qahtani as the ringleader of the operation that killed Mr. Khashoggi, and last year, he was put on a list of Saudi officials sanctioned by the United States for their role in the journalist’s death. Mr. al-Qahtani is viewed in the kingdom as a brutal enforcer of the crown prince’s agenda and has used an army of online trolls to harass Saudi dissidents on social media.

After Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, the kingdom announced that Mr. al-Qahtani had been removed from his position as an adviser to the royal court. Saudi Arabia has since begun criminal proceedings against 11 individuals involved in the operation. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five of them.

The kingdom has not released the names of the people on trial, and it is unclear whether Mr. al-Qahtani is among them.

Mr. Aldakhil, the other aide to the crown prince caught in the intercepts, until recently was the general manager of the Al Arabiya television network in Saudi Arabia. He is an influential media figure in the kingdom and a prominent adviser to the crown prince.

During the September 2017 conversation, according to intelligence reports, Mr. Aldakhil spoke to Prince Mohammed about luring Mr. Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia with the possibility of a job at Al Arabiya. The crown prince was skeptical that Mr. Khashoggi would accept the offer.

Last month, Mr. Aldakhil left his post at the network. Saudi news sites have reported that he is expected to be named the next Saudi ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

Yeah, like that.

This is going to end very, very badly for AMI, The National Enquirer, and David Pecker. This is clearly Extortion and people who argue that killing a story doesn’t have a “Monetary Value” should ask David Pecker about the $150,000 he paid to Karen McDougal. No monetary value my ass, this proves the going rate is $150,000 on the street.

Were I Jeff Bezos I’d be asking for $70 Billion in compensatory damages (what he’s likely to give up in his divorce settlement) and triple that ($210 Billion for the Math impaired) in punitive damages under RICO.

Not that he’s likely to be able to collect mind you, David Pecker, AMI, and the Enquirer simply don’t have the cash and would be instantly bankrupt.

Still, if it were paid the interest on $346 Billion (compensatory + punitive damages as well as the $70 Billion he’ll keep after the divorce) at 2.5% is $8.650 Billion annually or $23.7 Million a day or just a little less than $1 Million an Hour.

Every Hour. Every Day. Doing nothing except sit there in nice safe T Notes. That’s Bezos money.

And this is the pissing contest you want to buy into? I think Mohammed bin Salman better check his wallet, the other so-called players can’t even buy a seat at this table.

What’s more likely is that the Southern District of New York declares a violation of their plea agreement with AMI and David Pecker and he ends up in a cell next to Michael Cohn.

Too long? Didn’t read?

It’s ok, I have visual aids.

Rachel

More Rachel

Lawrence

Hoist the Colors!

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